A huge thanks to Tracy Fenton from https://www.compulsivereaders.com/ for organising this tour and to Clare Empson, Orion and Netgalley for a copy of this novel in return for a fair and unbiased review.
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‘Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’
On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.
But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.
When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fueled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…
I don’t have triggers and book themes that I avoid but this one hit home for me as an adopter.
It is a mild psychological/family thriller but the relationships and issues that are woven throughout are extremely well written and almost a plot within itself. Each character was explored in depth and brought out some intense emotions in me as I was reading.
The novel is told from the perspectives of Luke and of Alice (his biological mother). They are narrated across a dual timeline of the present, and Alice’s student days. Learning about Alice as a younger person and her reasons for giving up Luke were done tenderly and with respect. Luke grows up with adoptive parents but always having unanswered questions and feeling like he has missed out, he is thrilled to meet his birth mother, Alice.
As Alice forms a strong and loving bond with Luke’s son Samuel, it stirs a lot of dormant feeling in Luke. Jealousy, loss, grief? They are all there inside and the raw emotions are integrated into the characters well.
There is an element of thriller in this novel, mainly driven by the incredibly well written character’s rather than events. The tension builds throughout and there are a few little surprised in there too. For me though, the emotional aspect of this book was something I was unprepared for but truly loved.
This is my first novel by Clare Empson and it will not be my last. Highly recommended.